I came upon The Surgeon (2001) by Terr Gerritsen having searched for a crime thriller with an element of the macabre. The Surgeon finds us in Boston on the hunt for a killer whose actions suggest the work of, you guessed it, a surgeon. Alongside his victims the killer is targeting a previous victim who escaped. The only trouble is, the killer was shot and killed by that same victim, who just happens to be a beautiful surgeon. So has the killer returned or is this a copycat? Spearheading the investigation is detective Thomas Moore, a widower (see where this is going!) and plain homicide cop known to his colleagues as ‘St. Thomas’. Moore is accompanied by detective Jane Rizzoli, who, I understand, becomes the central character in subsequent books and features in the TV series Rizzoli and Isles.
My expectations of The Surgeon, which admittedly weren’t that high, were exceeded. It was well written, had plenty of pace, gruesome (Gerritsen bringing her medical training to the fore), and with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing from beginning to end. Moreover, the book has a few moments that send shivers down you spine, which in my experience is quite rare and therefore welcome.
Moore is a likeable enough character owing in part to your sympathy for him as a widower, and him being a general nice guy. If the plot was weaker, however, I don’t think the character would be strong enough to carry the book. Though as mentioned, this isn’t the case here. In fact, the person with the strongest character is Catherine Cordell, the surgeon in The Surgeon’s cross-hairs. Detective Rizzoli, as the central character in subsequent books and the one that shares double billing in TV’s Rizzoli and Isles, is surprisingly peripheral but you can see that the foundations are there for a decent character despite her being a little annoying.
At over 400 pages, The Surgeon isn’t short but it’s just the right length and a real page-turner. If you’re after a decent crime thriller then I’d thoroughly recommend it.